November 17, 2023
Mentors Help to Pay it Forward for Future PAs
November 12, 2021
By Danielle Rauch, PA-S2, Marshall B. Ketchum University, School of PA Studies
Danielle Rauch shares her personal experiences as a mentee in a pre-PA mentorship program, and as a current PA (physician associate/physician assistant) student and mentor for five pre-PA students.
Before PA School
Marshall B. Ketchum University (MBKU) in Fullerton, California, is a graduate institution with three programs: PA, pharmacy, and optometry. The MBKU Pre-PA Mentorship Club was founded to provide mentorship to aspiring PAs and to introduce them to the PA program.
I graduated from the University of California, Riverside with a Bachelor of Science in biology and an English minor. I discovered the PA profession when I was taking my grandfather to his chemotherapy appointments. I was impressed by the way his PA considered the reports from his cardiologist and nephrologist, and even welcomed Grandpa Joe’s feedback, before making decisions about new therapies or medications. I was inspired to become a PA who treats patients with this same level of diligence.
In 2013, I co-founded a pre-PA club called the PAs of Tomorrow at the University of California, Riverside. I researched the profession, networked with local PAs, and attended meetings at nearby PA programs. A few years later, I discovered the MBKU Pre-PA Mentorship Club, where I had some stellar student mentors, and was fortunate to receive a Future PA Legacy Scholarship which helped cover the cost of my application to MBKU. I was a mentee for two years before I was accepted to the MBKU PA program, and now I am so grateful for the opportunity to give back as a mentor and pre-PA club board member.
MBKU Pre-PA Club
The Pre-PA Mentorship Club at MBKU is one of the many reasons I love this program. Anyone who is considering the PA profession can apply to join MBKU’s student-run Pre-PA Mentorship Club, however, priority is given to students who are actively applying to programs.
The club is made up of PA students who agree to provide mentorship to pre-PA students. Each mentor can choose how many mentees they work with (I had five). The club has grown exponentially each year, especially when the club was virtual in 2020. We created more opportunities for pre-PA students from all over because our meetings were easily accessible in a virtual format. In the 2020-2021 cycle, 227 applicants were matched to 46 student mentors, and in the 2021-2022 cycle 315 mentees were paired with 51 student mentors. So far, we have successfully matched every applicant with a mentor.
In the fall, we open the club to new members. Dues are $10 per year to secure a mentor and access meetings. Each quarter, there is an event that includes a CASPA workshop, personal statement workshop, mock interview, or social time. Pre-PA students can also volunteer to act as standardized patients for current students on faculty-facilitated skills days. We also share information about our program’s open house, mock Challenge Bowl practice, or other events. Mentors communicate with their mentees via email or other personal communication and all mentees can join the MBKU Pre-PA Mentorship Club Facebook group where they are kept up to date with club announcements.
Additionally, member dues pay it forward in the form of a Future PA Legacy Scholarship. Last round, we were able to provide five $200 scholarships to pre-PA members to help pay for PA school applications. In 2021, our university recognized the Pre-PA Mentorship Club as Club of the Year – a huge honor and milestone.
I was fortunate to be a club mentee for two years before being accepted to the program. My mentors were invaluable at every stage of my application, helping me with personal edits and doing practice interviews with me. Without them, I might have felt the need to pay for experts to review my application.
I stay in touch with my mentors and plan to keep in touch in the future. Two of my mentees were accepted to PA school this year and it was so fulfilling to know that I could support them along their journeys the same way my mentors helped me. As a club member, I remember being invited to on-campus events where I met program faculty and participated as a standardized patient. In fact, one of the professors I met as a pre-PA mentee is now my faculty advisor and gave me my first white coat.
PA school experience
Choosing to attend MBKU was one of the easiest decisions I made during my application process. I accepted seats at two other programs while I waited to be called from the wait list at MBKU. After attending several open houses, serving as a standardized patient, and being a club mentee, I fell in love with MBKU and aspired to be a student there. I was accepted in 2020 and joined 39 other students who became my school family. I was elected vice president, AAPA student representative, and interprofessional representative for my class.
Despite the change from in-person to a hybrid distance-learning program, our class overcame each obstacle that came our way. While the COVID-19 pandemic physically dispersed our program, the support from classmates, faculty, and staff brought us closer together. Our classes were recorded digitally and assigned to us with recommended schedules for us to learn asynchronously. We would travel to campus in small cohorts, equipped with masks and social distancing mandates to keep everyone safe while we learned our hands-on skills. My class just completed the first 15 months of our program and we are about to begin our 12 months of clinical rotations.
Tips for other PA programs to emulate MBKU
As a program that values community service, it was natural that the student-run MBKU Pre-PA Mentorship Club was created to serve aspiring PA students. I highly recommend forming similar clubs at PA programs that want to give back to students interested in joining our great profession. Mentees understand that a PA student’s time is very valuable and they are encouraged to allow a generous amount of time for mentors’ responses. It is definitely manageable for PA student mentors and is incredibly helpful for pre-PA students. Our program also reaches out to mentees to volunteer as standardized patients for skills days, which benefits the mentees (they can experience some of what PA school is like and meet faculty and students), faculty members (they get to know prospective students), and current students as well (access to live simulations). The Pre-PA Mentorship Club is a win-win-win situation.
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Pre-PA Membership Information